Corbett Signs Bill That Will Alter The Way The State Funds Special Education

Harrisburg Patriot-News

Gov. Tom Corbett today signed legislation that will lead to overhauling the way future state funding for special education is distributed to school districts.

The legislation, which had strong support in the House and Senate, creates a 15-member commission to develop a special education funding formula to replace an archaic one that is more than two decades old. The panel has until Sept. 30 to complete its work and produce a recommendation for the Legislature and administration to consider.

The formula it develops is envisioned to pay districts closer to the actual costs they incur in providing services to students with special needs. It calls for separating the cost of providing services into three categories ranging from least intensive to most intensive.

Entering into the calculation will be a three-year average of special-needs student enrollment in each of those categories, along with district wealth. The current formula assumes that 16 percent of district enrollments comprises students needing special education services.

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association’s Steve Robinson said the formula will have no immediate effect on funding that districts see since the commission has until the fall to finalize its work and the formula will only apply to new state dollars invested in special education.

State funding for special education has stagnated at $1 billion for six years.

Lawmakers championing this effort through the Legislature were Rep. Bernie O’Neill, R-Bucks, and Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh County.

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